Media: Strategy Analysis - Shelter stages Un-Ideal Home Show

Brand: Shelter Brief: To raise awareness of the plight of the one million children living in poor conditions Target audience: ABC adults Budget: Less than £150,000 AGENCIES Media: Monkey Communications Creative: Hooper Galton Design agency: Johnson Banks


To most people, Shelter was a well-respected "homelessness" charity, concerned with getting people away from living on the streets and into housing. Yet, in reality, "street homelessness" was only a small element of the charity's work.

Shelter has always worked with people who, while not necessarily consigned to living on the streets, live in unfit, temporary, or insecure housing. But the public were largely in the dark about this huge - but hidden - problem of bad housing.

When Hooper Galton began working with Shelter, the charity's biggest problem was that its "issue" wasn't an "issue" in many other people's minds.

All of this meant that Shelter was in danger of slipping down the league of "must-support" charities.

With a very limited budget, it was felt that a bold approach was the only way forward. The strategy was to focus on the one million children living in sub-standard housing conditions in the UK. The agency decided to relate the message during moments when people were thinking about their own housing situations.

The UK spends more money per head on DIY and watches more home improvement television programmes than any other nation in Europe. This meant an array of touch-points existed to engage the public with Shelter's message, but it also left an opportunity for a focused campaign around one event in particular - the Ideal Home Show at Earl's Court during October.


- Brand development: Before any media work could take place, the brand itself had to be tackled. Hooper Galton led the strategic process of reframing the way people thought about "homelessness". The agency developed a long-term strategy through workshops, team meetings and visits to Shelter's clients.

The agency produced a brand strategy document, which gave the charity a fresh perspective on its brand personality. Shelter's voice is now louder, clearer and more intrusive.

- Brand identity: Hooper Galton then briefed the design agency Johnson Banks on the new corporate identity, with the two agencies working closely together before client presentation.

- Advertising and media: Hooper Galton created a poster campaign, working with the client and its media agency, Monkey Communications. The focus was on children, as the most emotionally vulnerable group affected by the problem of sub-standard housing.

The campaign took over Earl's Court Underground station during the Ideal Home Show via free media space that was negotiated by Monkey Communications. The agency then staged its own "Un-Ideal Home Show". The campaign highlighted the stark contrast between the nation's obsession with home improvement and the plight of the one million children living in unacceptable conditions in the UK.


The "Un-Ideal Home Show" activity generated coverage in 12 national newspapers, 11 regional newspapers and four trade titles. This represented a total "opportunity to view" of more than 22 million.

The entire campaign, beyond the Ideal Home Show activity, resulted in Shelter being recognised in an independent poll as one of the top ten charities in the UK.

Having kicked off with the brand work, the charity now has a focused strategy, a clear vision and a new corporate identity, putting it back in charge of its destiny.

The research company NfP undertook a survey of journalists' opinions of voluntary-sector organisations. In the unprompted category of recognised campaigns through media coverage, Shelter's work for children came third, losing only to Oxfam's work for the Darfur crisis and the NSPCC's "full stop" campaign.

THE VERDICT - Matt Andrews joint managing director, Vizeum UK

Increasingly, charities seem to be suffering misconceptions about their purpose and their funding status. Despite being told we are a generous nation of charity-givers, there are signs that apathy and ignorance are taking root.

Could "chugging" - the controversial method of accosting people in the street and asking for money - be to blame? There are hordes of drama students out there playing an endless version of British Bulldog with dazed shoppers in every high street. Could this be damaging the public's sensitivity to charity messaging? Let's hope not.

Hooper Galton's campaign for Shelter pulls few punches. Deliberately using large poster formats in long dwell-time locations is an effective means of putting the "slice of life writ huge" creative forcibly up the noses of public transport users.

The centrepiece, bombarding Earl's Court Underground station during the Ideal Home Show, is clever; targeting every Home Counties matron and unsuspecting "cocooning" family on their way to the ultimate UK fiesta of materialism.

Focusing on appalling examples of sub-standard housing for children is a guaranteed emotional bull's-eye for this audience. If they didn't feel terrible then they must have elephant-hide for skin.

It is credible that this kind of activity would help shift the public's view of Shelter from merely a one-dimensional homeless charity to an organisation that also plays a vital role in helping sufferers of sub-standard housing.

There is nothing complicated in this strategy and that certainly helps the resonance and starkness of the communication, since the budget for the campaign is small. The message is served at the right time to the right audience, since the show is built to extract consumers' cash. The only question is whether the audience had the opportunity to donate while the campaign was still fresh in their minds. Was there a strategically placed chugger on hand, or maybe a stall near the exhibition entrances and exits? Conversion is everything for charities.

It's good to hear more from Monkey Communications. This is the first campaign bearing its paw print I have seen since its excellent "banana" campaign for Smile.

SCORE: 4.5/5.

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